Early Country Music Week / Augusta Heritage Center Andrew Carroll June 14, 2016 Country music borrows from folk, pop, blues, swing and religious sources, and yet it is distinctly different. It is easily remembered, loves to tell a story and invites you to dance. The music we focus on is not from the current Nashville scene. This is country music from its roots: from Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family, through folks like Kitty Wells, Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton, to the soulful singing of George Jones and Vern Gosdin. Even the Honky Tonk sounds of Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis are included. During this week at Augusta, we explore this true treasure trove of American music with some of the most dedicated instructors doing country music today. Tuition is $450 plus room & board. Registration is now open! Specify Early Country Music Week and select three classes, one class per period. Watch website for complete listing of classes by period. Ginny Hawker (Coordinator, Do You Believe Me? with Courtney Granger) Emmylou Harris said Ginny Hawker is “real as dirt – she sings from the heart” when she chose Ginny’s CD, Letters From My Father, as one the four CDs she was listening to in Oprah magazine. That’s the only way Ginny knows how to sing – the way she learned to sing from her father, Ben Hawker. She and her dad taught at Augusta Vocal Week for 10 years and traveled to The Smithsonian, Vancouver and Chicago to perform at festivals and do workshops. Whenever Ginny sings, she makes the song sound like a classic you had forgotten about, while at the same time, making it sound so effortless that anyone could do the same. That’s what makes her a good teacher. Ginny will touch your heart and draw you into her world with her singing. She has taught at music camps for 25 years, as well as intensive workshops in her home for the past 9 years. Ginny has recorded with Kay Justice and with her husband, Tracy Schwarz. She has 2 solo CD’s on the Rounder Label. Ginny and Tracy teach 2-day intensive singing workshops in their home in Tanner, WV when they are not on the road. Ginny has been the coordinator of Early Country Music Week since it began in 2009. Rob McNurlin (Guest Artist) was raised in Eastern Kentucky where he began studying traditional music, learning hundreds of folk, hillbilly-blues and gospel tunes. Rob has released six CDs, including Cowboy Boot Heel, recorded at Johnny Cash’s Cabin Studio and produced by his Cash’s son John Carter Cash, and a duet with guest Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Lonesome Valley Again reached #26 on the FAR charts and #55 on the Americana chart, remaining in the top 100 over two months. Sacred Numbers is a collection of gospel songs. McNurlin’s latest CD, Rhinestoned, an original, traditional, country music recording, features legendary steel guitarist Kayton Roberts. In 2012 Rob was the executive producer on the Kayton Roberts CD Valley of the Roses. He also contributed vocals and guitar along with Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives, Chris Scruggs and Ranger Doug Green. McNurlin has toured North America, England and Australia solo and with the Beatnik Cowboys and traveled with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Hot Tuna. His songs have been covered by Ronnie Elliot, among others, and used in two award-winning documentaries. Kayton Roberts (Guest Artist) is originally from Ona, Florida. After meeting Chubby Wise–Hank Snow’s fiddler at the time–at a barbershop in northern Florida, Kayton left his job in the appliance department at Sears to play rhythm guitar with Snow. He moved to Nashville in 1967 and the next year he began playing the steel in Hank’s band, where he stayed for the next 30 years. During this time, Kayton toured across the country and around the world with Hank Snow’s Rainbow Ranch Boys and played on the Grand Ole Opry countless times. Kayton is a one-of-a-kind steel guitarist, respected by the Nashville music community. After Hank Snow passed away in 1999, Kayton continued to perform and also worked as a session musician, recording albums with Marty Stuart, Riders in the Sky, Aaron Tippin, Randy Travis, Allison Kraus, George Jones, Hank Williams III, John Fogerty and many others. On a recent trip to the studio, Kayton played steel on the title track of the Marty Stuart’s Ghost Train CD. On September 1, 2012, Kayton was inducted into the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in St. Louis. Jesse Wells (Fiddle: Fiddle is Country Music – NEW & Guitar: Rhythm Guitar is King! NEW) grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky surrounded by a family of traditional musicians eight generations deep. He has been the Music Archivist and an Instructor of Traditional Music at Morehead State University’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music since the summer of 2001. He is also the host of “Sounds of Our Heritage” on Morehead State Public Radio (www.msuradio.com). Wells was honored as a Master Kentucky Old-Time Fiddle and Banjo by the Kentucky Arts Council and the NEA in 2009. Jesse performs regularly with Kentucky Wild Horse and the award-winning Clack Mountain String Band. Wells has also toured throughout North America, the United Kingdom, China and Australia and has performed with Town Mountain, Don and Rigsby & Midnight Call, Jim Lauderdale, Chris Stapleton, the Dirk Powell Band, Dave Evans and Riverbend, Ralph Stanley and many others. He has been invited to perform and teach workshops at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, the Swannanoa Gathering and the Old Town School of Folk. He is a staff member of the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, Cowan, KY. Bill Kirchen (Guitar: Playing Electric Guitar in Country Music & Vocals: Songs From the Wild Side of Life) Guitarist, singer and songwriter Bill Kirchen first gained national recognition as a founding member of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. His trademark guitar lick drove their “Hot Rod Lincoln” cut into the Top Ten in 1972. He has released ten CDs on his own, and recorded and/or played guitar live with a who’s who of Americana and roots Rock ‘N’ Roll, among them Gene Vincent, Link Wray, Bo Diddley, Hazel Dickens, Doug Sahm, Hoyt Axton, Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello. Rolling Stone, June 2013 – “Near-legendary guitarist Bill Kirchen…displays a zest in his playing that is unmistakable and, all these years later, near – impossible to duplicate. A musical treasure, a fantastic player, and in these roots-conscious times, very much a pioneer, Bill Kirchen is one of our best.” Jesse Milnes (Guitar: Fingerpicking Country Guitar – NEW & Vocals: Classic Country Duets with Emily Miller) grew up in the world of West Virginia old-time music (his father is fiddler and folklorist Gerry Milnes). Though he is widely known as a fiddle player, Jesse’s first instrument was a guitar and he has developed a personal style of finger-picking, drawing on influences from blues to bluegrass to country. He has played fiddle and guitar with many country, old-time and bluegrass bands over the years, including the Sweetback Sisters, a country band for which he was also a main songwriter. Jesse has won many local and regional fiddle contests, including the WV State Folk Festival in Glenville, WV and the Ed Haley Fiddle Contest in Ashland, KY. Jesse and his wife, Emily Miller, recently toured in Australia and California and recorded their first album as a duo. They live in Valley Bend, WV. John Lilly (Country Essentials & Songwriting, Keeping it Real) is a multi–talented acoustic musician from Charleston, West Virginia. He has been editor of Goldenseal magazine, West Virginia’s outstanding traditional culture icon for over 18 years. In 2005, John won the national Ghost Writers in the Sky songwriting contest, sponsored by HankFest. The Durham, NC Independent said of John’s singing, “If Hank Williams had a sunny disposition, he’d be John Lilly.” John played traditional string band music for many years with Ralph Blizzard and the New Southern Ramblers. Steeped in this early country tradition, John has been writing his own songs – almost every day – for the past 5 years. His latest CDs, Last Chance to Dance and Cold Comfort have been said to successfully bridge the gap between tradition and innovation. His Country Essentials & Songwriting Class lineup includes: Monday – Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family Tuesday – Two Hanks and a Lefty (Williams, Snow and Frizzell) Wednesday – Working Women’s Wednesday (Kitty, Dolly, Tammy and Loretta) Thursday – Bakersfield Day (Buck, Merle and Dwight Yoakam) Friday – George Jones is King! Thomas Bryan Eaton (Steel Guitar: Steel Guitar in Country Music – & Melodic Improvisation in Country Music – NEW) is the most fun, patient, organized yet relaxed teacher you will ever come across. He teaches all year round in the New York City area where he is also in demand as a studio musician. He writes and performs his own songs in solo performances and with his band, Hobson’s Choice. He also spends a lot of time touring the country with Miss Tess & the Talkbacks, who are embarking on their first European tour this May. You may have heard the old saying that someone is “eat up with music”? Well, that is Thomas. He can stay up all night playing steel guitar, slide guitar, and singing whatever the jam or performance calls for. He knows all the old classic country songs and sings them with feeling that belies his young years. A young student wrote last year, “This man is a phenomenal musician, teacher, and human. He made the hardest instrument there seem not so daunting.” Believe it. Karen Collins (Vocals: Country Gospel & Winning Love Songs) grew up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia in a coal mining community. She spent a lot of time listening to country music on the radio and singing in the local Baptist Church. The echoes of those early country sounds stand out in her singing and in her songwriting today. Karen is lead singer with the honky-tonk band, Backroads Band and with the Cajun/Zydeco band, Squeeze Bayou. She also sings with the acoustic country quartet, The Blue Moon Cowgirls, plays solo shows and teaches harmony singing workshops in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area. Karen has won Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) for “Country Vocalist” and also “Country Duo/Group” for her band, “Karen Collins & The Backroads Band”. Courtney Granger (Vocals: Do You Believe Me?) is an old soul at a young age, and he’s Cajun through and through with all the depth of emotion and experience that one life can hold so young. He is a master fiddler and singer of his native Cajun music, but he can also sing a country song that will burn your heart and have you crying for more. Students have written; “He broke my heart every day and I loved it.” “His class worked – here is a set of songs and how to sing them. It worked because he truly listened to his students and was very generous.” “Courtney has wonderful insight into the music – and can articulate those thoughts.” Whenever Courtney sings at a country or Cajun dance, dancers stop and get lost in his deep commitment to the music, so deep that he sweeps the listener right up into it with him. You feel like, “he’s singing my life.” Courtney is currently recording a much anticipated solo cd – his first in 15 years. Emily Miller (Vocals: Lead Singing in a Country Band & Vocals: Classic Country Duets with Jesse Milnes) The first song Emily Miller remembers learning is the Louvin Brothers’ hit, “When I Stop Dreaming,” around age 8, which she sang as a duet with her older brother Ethan. After performing with many different groups in her teenage years (most notably Northern Harmony, with whom she toured all over the US and Europe), Emily formed the honky-tonk country band The Sweetback Sisters in 2006 with fellow singer Zara Bode. They have recorded three full-length records and have performed their renegade retro style of country music in barrooms, festival stages and concert halls around the world, including appeareances on A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage. Emily and her husband Jesse Milnes also perform as a duo, singing country and old-time music in close harmony. Emily is musical director for the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble’s string band in Elkins, WV, which recruits talented old-time instrumentalists and percussive dancers from around the country for a high-level student performance ensemble. She and Jesse make their home in Valley Bend, WV Scott Phelps (Staff Musician) As a past recipient of an Augusta Scholarship, Scott understands the power of a week spent studying at Augusta. After purchasing his first guitar at 21 years old, Scott has spent countless hours studying all forms of American roots music. He is particularly passionate about early country, early rock and roll, and rock-a-billy music. He holds a graduate degree in Archival Studies from East Tennessee State University where he participated in the internationally recognized Bluegrass, Old-Time, and country Music program. During this time he studied bluegrass guitar, old-time banjo, and honk-tonk electric guitar. In addition to being a musician, Scott spent several years as a performing member of the Green Grass Cloggers. He had the opportunity to dance at music festivals such as Merlefest and LEAF, as well as perform with the Carolina Chocolate Drops on several occasions. When not traveling and playing music, you can currently find Scott living in St. Louis, MO and working for the Boy Scouts of America. Tracy Schwarz (Staff Musician) played fiddle, guitar, banjo, and accordion and sang lead and harmony for 50 years with The New Lost City Ramblers, the seminal band responsible for introducing many urban audiences to rural southern music in the ’60s and ’70s. He has recorded more than 30 albums with folks like Mike Seeger, Hazel Dickens and Dewey Balfa. Bands that he played in have been nominated for Grammys three times. He currently performs and teaches workshops at music camps around the country with his wife, Ginny Hawker. Although—and because—he did not “grow up in the culture” of the music he represents so well, Tracy listened, REALLY listened hard, to singers like Hank Williams, Ralph Stanley, Lefty Frizzell, Kitty Wells, The Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers. He listened to what the instrumentalists and singers did to create an authentic-to-the-culture sound. He will be available to assist any of the instructors during class time and to do one-on-ones with students when requested. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.